What is branding, anyway? If you’ve asked that, you’re not alone.
In this confusing world of logos and advertisements, it’s difficult to decipher exactly what branding is.
Haven’t we all scratched our head and wondered what makes a brand stand out, popular and loved?
The truth is, as a business owners, we know we need a strong brand, even if most of us don’t quite understand what it is.
So here’s there gist:
Much like a hot, iron rod that stamps a cow’s sorry behind, a brand is a “feature that distinguishes one seller’s product from others.”
Fortunately, business branding doesn’t have to be as painful. But it is far less tangible.
We all know business brands are not just a symbol, a name or a website.
A brand, after all, is no more its logo than a person is their photograph.
When you see a photo of Steve Jobs, it’s not his stubble or rounded specs that make you think of Apple’s humble beginnings and innovation, it’s the stories attached to them.
After years of sharing with the world his beliefs, journey, passion and uncompromising demand for sleek design and typeface, people now associate Steve Jobs and Mac with a perspective and a conviction they want to be associated with.
Apple’s is not just a range of tech products, but an ideology that’s seduced the masses. It’s a brand so powerful, that even when superior products hit the market, people remain loyal.
So how do you create a brand that wins people over? Here’s five must-knows to get you going.
Hey, before you roll your eyes, this is a lot harder than you think. Not many people come out the womb, fighting their corner and knowing what they stand for. It takes work.
Each and every one of us has accumulated a series of life lessons that led us to where we are today. Those lessons no doubt form the values and beliefs that shape your business.
What are those values and beliefs, however subtle, that drives your business? Defining your values, vision and beliefs will give insight into your brand, integral for when you start marketing.
Brands are like people. They have personalities that grow, evolve, interact, show off and make mistakes.
Unlike old school forms of branding where all you needed was a logo and a tagline, more is expected from today’s brands.
People expect brands to answer their emails, share stories, make them feel good and reinforce their identities. Fail to meet those expectations and you will fail to gain trust, loyalty, advocates and sales.
That’s because today’s consumers demand more, give less and can sense bullshit from a mile away.
What does that mean, exactly? It means if your brand as a case of split personality syndrome, hypocrisy or aloofness, you’ll lose people’s trust.
The more defined and consistent your brand is, and the more it acts like a person, the more the world will trust you.
So what makes your brand personality? What traits represent your beliefs, values and the work you’re doing? Defining your brand personality lays the foundation for all your brand and marketing efforts to follow.
A strong brand has its own identity – but an identity is useless if your target audience can’t relate.
If you are a company that sells men’s apparel, you’re hardly going to develop a brand persona that’s cutesy and playful. Good branding is finding the sweet spot between the company and the audience.
Who is your target audience? What do they do, what are they interested in, what do they want, what are their desires, what are their problems, where do they hang out and what do they talk about?
Knowing your target customer helps you filter the relevant parts of your brand and personality. What you portray has to be honesty – it also has to be relevant to the folks you want to reach.
But take heed: The worst thing you can do is have a weak identity fearing you’ll turn some people off
Too many people ask “what if my brand marginalises part of the market?”
If you’ve asked this question, it means you either don’t know your target customer, or you are unrealistically trying to please too many people at once.
If you sell diamonds and position your brand to attract sophisticated, high-end women, but you’re worried you’ll exclude men, you’re going about it the wrong way. Your brand cannot please everyone. Know who your target audience is and go for it. Fearlessly.
Brands that try to appease everyone please no one. Boring and generic is the worst thing that can happen – it will lead to a slow and lonely death, after suffering extensive nobody gives a damn syndrome.
Despite the endless research that spouts storytelling is the most effective way to persuade, influence and communicate, stories address our most fundamental to need for connection and meaning.
They’ve been around from the dawn of man, and they’ll will be around until the end of man – and you better believe, when that happens, it’ll be a damn good story. It’s just the way the world works.
By far, stories are the most important ingredient for any brand – without a story to weave together your brand values, beliefs, purpose and personality, you are nothing more than an exchange of goods and services and well thought-out business plan.
Stories bring the brand vision to life in a way that brings relevance to the world. Use stories to communicate who you are, what your brand stands for and watch the magic happen.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking you only have one brand story.
Brand stories are made up of all the hundreds of stories that illustrate your company’s values and activities. When you tell stories that encapsulates your company’s values, you attract people who believe the same thing.
There’s power in speaking from our values; it’s like a rallying-cry. When we speak from our values and our stories, we reinforce our identity as well as the identity of those who support us.
It’s a beautiful thing. Our human need for community, kinship and recognition finally plays a part in the world of business branding.
Inspire those feelings and you have yourself a successful brand.
Once you define your brand, your values, purpose, personality and stories, you then have a solid foundation to build your content marketing efforts.
Your stories will naturally happen once you make it part of your conscious branding efforts and so will your content ideas.
Based on your brand personality and ethos, what images, blogs, videos and podcasts can you share? What ideas are you advocating, what knowledge are you imparting, what tone or humor? What is your ideal audience hungry for? What do they enjoy? What value can you add?
Content marketing is all about adding value while building recognition and your expertise in a field. How you build these things will be easier once your brand understanding is in place.
Once you’ve mastered these five areas, share your content in the places your customers engage with you, constantly reinforcing your brand values, vision and story.
Where ever your customers are = where you place your marketing efforts. Simply really.